Oriental town manager Diane Miller explains the decision to launch the fireworks from the bridge.
I was asked at the Board meeting to explain the decision about fireworks from the bridge. Last year, noting that the previously used platform on the point across from the bridge had been developed, Croaker Festival people began a search for a new launch site. Several properties were suggested. Regulations require zero development in a 350′ radius from launch. That really limited options and sent the committee a considerable way up Greens Creek to find a suitable parcel. Many couldn’t see from their previously perfect viewing platform (the bridge). So when planning began this year, the options became even more limited with continuing development. The options were- the Rec Park on Straight Rd., the Greens Creek launch, a barge, or the bridge itself. As the Greens Creek launch was not well received, it was eliminated. The Rec park has other limitations…parking, access, distance from the festival, viewing platforms. The organizers have had terrible difficulty, except for a platinum sponsor who stepped forward this year to pay half of the $10,000 cost of the fireworks. The remainder has not been easy to raise. A barge launch carries an approximate price tag of $150,000- due to differences in equipment, barge rental, insurance, crew required-unsurmountable. I was asked to contact NCDOT about use of the bridge and the permissions required, and so I did, as the last viable option. With this permission, there are inconveniences. The bridge will be closed from 3PM UNTIL THE SHOW IS OVER. The reason is in the regulations. Once delivered, the launch site is required to be restricted and the Fire Marshal onsite. He has agreed to spend his entire day babysitting fireworks, and we thank him. He is also responsible for emergency services in the County. Dispatch, the Sheriff, and all emergency services are aware and have plans in place to ensure that no interruption or delay in emergency services will happen with this closure. The only other inconvenience is to us, the residents. We’ll mark as best we can, as far out as possible the bridge closing. You can help by sharing the information as often as you can, so that the inconvenient 8 mile detour affects as few as possible. Plan ahead, share the news, make sure you’re on the side of the bridge you need to be on by 3, and enjoy the show from nearly anywhere from this venue. The Croaker folks have worked tirelessly to provide the best festival they can and all as volunteers, and I thank them all for their efforts.